The Top Cruise Stories of the Decade

Anthem of the Seas and Carnival Magic

During this past decade, the cruise ship orderbook grew from 27 ships on order in 2010 to more than 110 ships entering 2020. Not only is the current orderbook a record, but it also contains more different ships than ever before from 9,000 to 100 passengers, from contemporary and mass-market ships to ultra-luxury and expedition vessels.

Roald Amundsen

The expedition market has taken off in the last few years. Traditionally dominated by a handful of operators with older ships, new ships are taking over while also growing the market segment and attracting new players, including most of the major cruise companies.

Costa Venezia

China has been a roller coaster for the industry. When the market “discovered” cruising, too many operators put too many ships in there too fast which resulted in an adjustment period as the market and its sales model were overwhelmed. Having modified its sales model, the market now seems to be coming back, but operators are more cautious.

New Antennas

Better satellite service and more broadband have accelerated internet and phone services aboard the ships so passengers now essentially can enjoy the same connectivity they can at home. In addition, apps and services like Princess’ Ocean Medallion.

Shorepower Plug

Increasingly stricter environmental regulations have been introduced, requiring ships to operate on low-sulfur fuel or use scrubbers to clean the exhaust gases from heavy fuel oil. These restrictions also extend to ports which may also require low sulfur fuels or that ships turn off their engines and connect to shorepower.

New technologies have also been explored and introduced due not only the environmental regulations but also the cost of fuel, seeking to reduce fuel consumption which in turn also reduces emissions. These technologies include LNG as a new fuel, research into hybrid solutions including fuel cells and batteries, optimized hull and bow shapes, hull coatings, trim optimization, LED lighting, and more.

From the christening of the Celebrity Edge

Women have stepped up the plate and broken the so-called glass ceiling assuming top jobs as presidents and CEOs of cruise brands, as well as senior executives. Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises and Princess Cruises have women at the helm. Also at sea, women have assumed roles as captains in addition to senior officer positions.

Viking Sea and MSC Meraviglia in Manhattan

The decade has also seen the dramatic growth of MSC Cruises sailing up to be the third-largest cruise company. In addition, newcomer Viking Ocean has established itself in the premium market and is now also reaching into the expedition segment. Also launched has been the new brand of Virgin Cruises, so far with four ships being built.

Star Breeze Cut in Half

Drydockings have evolved from being mainly class inspections, repairs and basic refurbishments to becoming major revitalization projects, including stretchings, sometimes transforming older ships into literally new ships, to the tune of as much as $200 million per project.

Costa Concorida

All was not positive during the decade, however, the grounding of the Costa Concordia with the resulting loss of life in addition to eventual scrapping of the ship, made a strong if temporary dent in the industry’s safety public perception. Incidents of violation of environmental regulations also took place, resulting in hefty fines.

Princess Cruises claims Medallion Net offers ‘best WiFi at sea’

Image result for Medallion Net

Princess Cruises claims it has rolled out the “best WiFi at sea” which will help attract new-to-cruise passengers.

Princess Cruises has fitted nine ships with Medallion Net WiFi so far and plans to complete rolling it out across its fleet by July next year.

The WiFi will power the line’s Ocean Medallion technology, which is fitted on new ship Sky Princess.

Speaking onboard the ship during its shakedown cruise from Trieste to Athens, Prag Shah, the line’s global head, experience and innovation, said: “One of the biggest detractors people have of cruising – like the younger generation – is that they cannot be connected as well as on a land-based holiday.

“Millennials always like to be posting and sharing their experiences with everybody.

“We wanted to make connectivity onboard better and a lot of effort and creativity went in to do that. From a cruising standpoint, being able to promote and sell longer cruises brings another type of cruiser into the equation.”

John Padgett, Carnival Corporation’s chief experience and innovation officer, addressed media and travel agents via the internet to demonstrate the connection strength on the new vessel.

He said: “There are no longer any sacrifices by coming on a cruise vacation. Cruise holidays have been an amazing value for years, but you have tended to sacrifice this feeling of connectivity.

“There are no longer any sacrifices there. We are the only cruise line that offers anything like this. I want you to use as much bandwidth as you like because that makes your experience better.”

Padgett told the audience Medallion Net, which costs $9.99 per day, as the “best WiFi at sea”.

Sky Princess is the first of the line’s vessels which was built with Ocean Medallion. Several guest services, including ordering food and drink anywhere on the ship, locating friends and family, and navigating your way around the vessel are available through the wearable technology.

The line has retrofitted four of its existing ships with Ocean Medallion.

When asked what developments would be made to Ocean Medallion technology going forward, Shah said: “Personalising [Ocean Medallion] is going to be where we are putting a lot more focus [in 2020].”

Carnival Corp. demonstrates Medallion’s bandwidth potential

Image result for carnival medallion technology

Carnival Corp. staged a live teleconference from the decks of the Regal Princess, demonstrating the new Medallion technology’s bandwidth and connectivity.

The ship is the first to implement Medallion, part of which is a faster and more reliable internet connection.

During the demonstration in the Bahamas, Carnival attempted to harness 1.5 gigabytes per second of bandwidth to show that connectivity is a rapidly fading concern on ships. Carnival showed that games and video streaming ran adequately on the Medallion internet.

John Padgett, Carnival’s chief experience and innovation officer, presided over the demonstration and said that the largest bandwidth reported to date by a cruise ship had been 580 megabytes per second.

Unlike homes, cell phones or most hospitality venues, cruise ships at sea are out of touch with the usual transmission networks for Internet signals and must rely on satellites. Until recently that service has suffered from slowness, unreliability and expense.

“There’s always been a liability associated with cruising and that has been connectivity,” Padgett said.

He said he hoped the stress test would prove that cruise ships now have the same technical capacity as land resorts for connectivity.

“Once we dispel the myth that connectivity is a problem, we’ll open up the cruise market to new demand,” Padgett said.

To gain better connectivity, Carnival has partnered with SES Networks, which has an array of high and mid-earth orbit satellites, which can shorten the time that signals travel back and forth in the atmosphere, improving connectivity.

Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks, said on the conference call that the quality of Internet service is affected by the distance to the satellite and by the amount of bandwidth devoted to the transmission.

He compared earlier service on cruise ships to a four-lane highway, and said the bandwidth in the demonstration is more like a 50 or 100 lane highway. The precise amount of bandwidth in use during the call will be subject to later verification.

“Now it’s about making that bandwidth affordable, and seamless and efficient,” Collar said.

Padgett said the super-fast Internet for now is available only on the Regal Princess and he declined to give a timetable for its implementation on other Princess or Carnival Corp. ships. But he said there’s been much progress in making the Internet service faster and more reliable.

“All of our ships have connectivity, and we’ve made a dramatic improvement across the fleet over the past few years,” Padgett said.